Andy, I’m going to brief, because these drawn-out exchanges tend to bore people. But I’m sorry I’m just not getting it. Hate to be obtuse. I take your point that Bush could have been more forthright in attacking militant Islam (and been harder on Syria and Iran), but that would have done nothing to make Iraq more secular or reduce the authority of a figure like Sistani. I can’t figure out whether you consider someone like Sistani a “militant” or not–if so, you have a very broadly defined war on your hands.
My position here is an uncomfortable one because I’m between those who think we can wave a wand (“demand”) and make Iraq a liberal society that accords with all our bedrock principles and those who say basically that people and cultures never change. They do change, but it takes time. I have to say I probably agree more with the Derb post below–although it’s more cynical about our motives in trying to broker a deal than I would be–than anything else that has been posted in here on the constitution.